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Japan rising

Monday, 30 April 2018 02:50
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The 2018 Japan Gaming Congress will attract the cream of the gaming industry crop to Conrad Tokyo from 10 to 11 May with a Japanese IR industry closer than ever to becoming reality.

The 2018 Japan Gaming Congress is shaping up as one of the most significant gaming industry events of the year.

Coming at a time when Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is deep into the process of pushing through its long-awaited Integrated Resort Implementation Bill – which will officially set the rules and regulations for the local casino industry – it is one of the few industry gatherings to attract a significant number of senior executives and CEOs from the world’s leading gaming industry players.

Last year’s event attracted 420 attendees in what was a clear demonstration of the huge global interest in Japan’s burgeoning casino industry and at least that many again are expected in 2018, particularly given the sudden and significant progress made on the IR Implementation Bill since the start of April.

After more than a year of seemingly slow going, lawmakers last month agreed on a range of key criteria that will make up the bill, including the provision for three licenses to be issued in the first round.

As part of a series of compromises between the LDP, which sought more relaxed rules, and its coalition partner Komeito which fought for far tighter restrictions, these initial three licenses will be open for expansion after seven years as opposed to the previously proposed 10 years.

In good news for prospective operators, a flat tax rate of 30% will be imposed – better than the sliding scale suggested earlier which had the tax rate climbing as high as 50% depending on revenue.

The size of the casino will be limited to 3% of the total floor space of the integrated resort, however a prior plan to limit the IR size to 15,000 square meters has been scrapped.

Locals will be restricted to three visits per week and 10 per month as part of the country’s measures to curb problem gambling.

Finally, Japan residents will be subject to a ¥6,000 entry fee – equivalent to US$54 – as part of those same measures. The figure falls slightly below the ¥8,000 fee Komeito had been pushing for but is well above the LDP’s proposed ¥2,000.

With many of those basics now sorted, this year’s Japan Gaming Summit will focus on four central themes:

  •      • IR NON-GAMING AMENITIES: Incorporating entertainment into IRs, how to facilitate an international market and taking a global perspective.
  •      • IR ECONOMICS: A look into the for local businesses and communities and the economic impact on Japan versus the rest of Asia.
  •      • INNOVATING TOURISM: Selecting, financing and building in the right location, and supplier conversations.
  •      • IR – A VISION FOR THE FUTURE: A look into new technologies, how to capitalize on the gaming culture, payment systems and crypto currencies.


The Congress will also feature the return of the “Operator Vision” series of presentations in which senior representatives from many of the leading contenders for a Japan gaming license will provide insights into how their Japan IRs might look. Among those scheduled to speak are the CEO of MGM Japan Ed Bowers and President of Wynn Resorts Development Chris Gordon, while Galaxy Entertainment Group’s Michael Mecca and the Chairman and CEO of Galaxy partner Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer, Jean-Luc Biamonti, will host a joint presentation.

Melco Resorts & Entertainment, SJM Holdings and Caesars Entertainment Corp are also scheduled to present their Operator Vision.

More than just another conference, the 2018 Japan Gaming Congress will also represent the last time Japan’s key casino industry stakeholders gather in the one place before the bidding for a license begins in earnest. That alone is worth the price of admission.

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